Saturday News: Misplaced priorities


GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES GOP STATE BUDGET: One day after state lawmakers approved a $24 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts next week, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the plan Friday. "This budget, as written, doesn't move us forward," Cooper said at an Executive Mansion news conference as he was surrounded by dozens of Democratic lawmakers and others. "I want to sign a budget that will move us forward." Republicans lost their veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate last fall, and although a handful of Democrats in both chambers voted for the bill, Republicans would have to pull at least four more House Democrats over to their side to override the veto. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson said Democratic lawmakers are united behind Cooper and will sustain his veto in a potential override attempt. Sens. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, Ben Clark, D-Hoke, and Don Davis, D-Pitt, who all voted for the budget this week, were at the news conference.

DAN FOREST ECHOES WHITE SUPREMACISTS IN SERMON ATTACKING MULTICULTURALISM: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest faced pushback on social media Friday after liberal news outlet Think Progress posted a story about him warning Cornerstone Church in Salisbury that “diversity and multiculturalism” could be harmful to America. The church posted a video of the June 23 service on its Facebook page. Forest, a Republican, is expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in 2020. “God doesn’t want us to divide our state,” Forest said. “He doesn’t want us to divide our nation. He wants us to bring people together and live in the world like the Acts 2 church did. And yet no other nation, my friends, has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today, because of a lack of assimilation, because of this division, and because of this identity politics.” Think Progress noted that disparaging comments about “multiculturalism” are sometimes used by white nationalists, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups.

NC FARM BILL CONTAINS BAN ON SMOKABLE HEMP, WHICH IS NOT A NARCOTIC: A key House committee signed off Friday on a wide-ranging farm bill, including language meant to put the state's growing hemp industry on strong footing. But it also backed a ban on one of the industry's more profitable products: smokable hemp. Law enforcement had called for such a ban repeatedly as the state's annual Farm Act moved through the General Assembly, and dozens of officers, deputies and prosecutors attended a lengthy Friday morning meeting of the House Agriculture committee. Their concern: Smokable hemp may not contain the THC that produces marijuana's high, but it looks and smells just like marijuana. Allowing hemp growers and shops to sell the buds, along with oil extracts and other marketable products from the hemp plant, makes it nearly impossible to enforce the state's marijuana laws, law enforcement said.

U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL TAKE ON DACA CASE: The DACA program has become politically volatile and the object of negotiations — to no end, so far — between Congress and the White House. Initiated in 2012 by a proclamation from President Barack Obama, DACA has protected from deportation nearly 700,000 people brought to the United States as children, a group that’s been labeled “dreamers.” The justices have considered since January whether to review a ruling against the administration from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California. It recently denied a request to expedite review of a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The Trump administration moved to scuttle the program in 2017 after Texas and other states threatened to sue to force its end. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions advised the Department of Homeland Security that the program was probably unlawful and that it could not be defended. But other courts have rejected that theory, saying DACA is different. They have kept the program in place, requiring that those already enrolled be allowed to renew their participation. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who is among those fighting the administration’s decision, said that more than 373,000 two-year renewals have been approved since January 2018.

TRUMP AND XI JINPING AGREE TO SIT DOWN AGAIN OVER TRADE ISSUES: The agreement, brokered during more than an hour of discussion between the leaders, did not by itself signal any major breakthrough in resolving the fundamental conflict. But it represented a temporary cease-fire to give negotiators another chance to forge a permanent accord governing the vast flow of goods and services between the two nations. “We discussed a lot of things, and we’re right back on track,” Mr. Trump told reporters after his session with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the annual summit meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Osaka, Japan. “We had a very, very good meeting with China,” the president added, “I would say probably even better than expected, and the negotiations are continuing.” Mr. Trump promised to hold off on his threat to slap new 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports, and he agreed to lift some restrictions on Huawei, the Chinese technology giant at the center of a dispute between the nations. In exchange, he said, China agreed to buy a “tremendous amount” of American food and agricultural products. “We will give them a list of things we want them to buy,” he said.